Nigeria, golden nation, jubilates


THE reasons for despair are plenty – joblessness, kidnapping and a lackluster democracy. Yet, at a little roadside shop, a replica of the national flag in the green- white-green colours adorns the entrance. The flag flutters on vehicles that speed past. And men and women wear caps with the colours of the national flag.

Nigerians are celebrating their independence. The nation is 50 years old today.

Enter leaders and nations who wish Nigeria well. For , the President of the Senate, David Mark, the future of the country is bright and the nation is indivisible.

Also yesterday, , Britain from which Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960, pledged closer partnership to sustain the existing cultural and historical links for the benefit of their peoples. Britain also promised to assist Nigeria conduct credible elections next year.

Pope , Benedict , XVI equally sent a congratulatory message to President Jonathan, the , Federal Government and all Nigerians on the occasion of the country’s 50th independence anniversary.

The pre-anniversary events were rounded off in Abuja with the airwaves buzzing from the final rehearsals of the , Nigerian Air Force (NAF) jets. Some of the major streets around the Three Arms Zone – Presidential Villa, , National Assembly and Supreme Court precincts - are also adorned with the national flag of green-white-green.

And on the grounds of the Eagle Square, troops of the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and other paramilitary agencies were giving finishing touches to the parade rehearsals.

Troops of the , Nigerian Army have also lined up their hardware and other equipment in preparation for their display during the planned march past.

Some of the aircraft in the inventory of the , NAF participating in the final fly past include the Alpha jets and the multi-role helicopters. All the aircraft’s activities are being coordinated from the NAF’s temporary base headquarters at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

But apart from the major symposium and activities of Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary committee held in major hotels and facilities, some citizens complained that the activities were too elitist.

According to Mr. Felix Anodo, a businessman at the Garki Market, “the whole preparation and overall anniversary celebrations seem to have been targeted towards only the elite. The mobilisation was all in the radio and television. Where did the ordinary citizen come into play? We have seen the seminars and conferences on Nigeria at 50. But did you hear of where the ordinary citizens were brought together under one roof for the celebrations.”

Besides the general lack of promotional materials available for the citizens, the city of Abuja did not witness special cleaning. Most of the areas outside the venues were left unkempt. From the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, both the local and international wings were decorated with the national colours up to the junction of the , Bill Clinton Drive junction with the Musa Yar’Adua Expressway, formerly the Abuja Airport Road.

The upper chamber assured the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that its plan to revive fixed telephony would receive the support of the Senate.

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate, Paul Mummeh, Mark said, “although we tottered, we remained determined and indivisible people under one nation.”

Mark saluted the indomitable spirit of Nigerians and noted that despite some challenges including the 30 months old fratricidal Nigerian civil war, military coups and counter coups, religious crises and ethnic conflagration, the country remains united. “We have weathered the storm and there is no going back. “We have proved them all wrong and remain indivisible and it has been a journey where our positives certainly outweighed our negatives,” he said.

He urged Nigerians to look at the country’s future with certainty: “We should be forward-looking. For instance, our 11 years old democracy is becoming stronger and stronger by the day.

“And there is a strong belief that Nigeria will be prosperous once again. Besides, the emerging leaders at various levels have brought in renewed hope, indicating that our worst nightmares are over.”

The President of the Senate, however, expressed concern over the security situation in the country and tasked security agencies to rise to the challenge, saying “because a situation where lives and property are continually threatened by armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes can no longer be tolerated or accepted.


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